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It’s been almost 20 years since we’ve seen Ewan McGregor as Obi-Wan Kenobi. And with McGregor's return to the role for the upcoming Disney+ limited series, he admits that he was a bit rusty in playing certain parts of the character.
In a press conference that SYFY WIRE attended with other select outlets, McGregor shared what it was like to don the Jedi robes and play Obi-Wan once more, including what he had to do some homework on.
“[Director Deborah Chow] and I did a casting for two roles in the series that we wanted. So we did screen tests with different actors for those roles — that was the first thing I did as Obi-Wan again since 2003,” he shared. “So I arrived — we borrowed a bit of The Mandalorian stage on a Sunday when they were off and some of their crew — and I walked into the dressing room and there was an Obi-Wan-ish costume hanging up in the wardrobe that The Mandalorian’s wardrobe department had put together.”
McGregor put on the costume, something he knew was momentous when he walked out onto the set. “There are so many Star Wars fans in this crew, which was a new experience for me,” he said. “So there was a buzz about Obi-Wan walking back on stage.”
Not everything was like it once was, however, most noticeably McGregor’s accent. “When we came to do the actual scenes with these other actors, I was doing this vague English accent and it wasn't really Obi-Wan’s voice at all,” he recalled with a laugh. “And I was like, ‘That's not very good.’ Luckily, we had months before we actually started shooting, so I went back and did some homework with Alec Guinness [who played Obi-Wan in 1977’s A New Hope], and what I'd done before in the original films.”
McGregor’s Obi-Wan is also very different from the Obi-Wan he played in the prequel films. “Just being closer to Alec Guinness, I guess in age, was interesting,” he shared. “And also, Alec Guinness’ Obi-Wan, when we find him, is a solitary figure. He's living in the desert alone. And so I suppose, my Obi-Wan now is just a bit closer to his.”
It is Guinness who McGregor often turned to, in fact, when preparing for his version of the character. “Alec Guinness had this wit behind his eyes all the time. He had a twinkle I think, in his eyes, and that's I guess in the writing. But also just for me, I always try and think of him and try to feel him sort of somewhere … hear him saying the lines,” he explained. “That's why I think the writing was so so good in this, because all of his dialogue felt to me like it could have been Alec Guinness saying it, and then I knew we were on the right path.”
The first two episodes of Obi-Wan Kenobi premiere on Disney+ on Friday, May 27.
Looking for more sci-fi TV? Check out shows like Resident Alien, Brave New World, Project Blue Book, Eureka, Heroes, Intergalactic, and more streaming now on Peacock. Looking ahead, SYFY has new series The Ark in the works from original Stargate film writer/producer Dean Devlin, as well as Stargate SG-1 producer Jonathan Glassner.